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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Recommendation: Kicking and Screaming

Imagine if you read Catcher in the Rye right after you got kicked out of your fancy prep-school? Or if you read Hamlet shortly after a combination assassination-usurpation on the part of your uncle? Both of those works would speak so clearly to your situation that they would be exalted, perhaps even beyond reason. They would go beyond your critical sensibilities and reach some plaque-covered under-utilized emotional core.

Kicking and Screaming (the 1995 movie, not the Will Ferrell youth soccer one) is such a movie. The movie was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, the man behind the great The Squid and the Whale (and therefore the man responsible for introducing me to Loudon Wainwright III). I am incapable of objectively reviewing this movie, so I am just going to tell you to see it, as soon as you can.

The movie tells the story of a group of friends who graduate college together and struggle to take the next step. As someone who is currently in his ninth month of unemployment, I felt like everyone of these characters was living one of my own anxieties, even though my own story is obviously much different. Grover is dealing with his girlfriend's decision to study in Prague, and foolishly deciding to distance himself from her. Max is prematurely pessimistic about his future, convinced the world isn't going to give him a chance to live the life he wants. Skippy is trying to live an extra year as a student through his girlfriend, and Otis doesn't want to go to grad school until he realizes working at the Video Planet and living with his mother isn't a better option. While trying to avoid resorting to their old campus bar, the boys hang out at a local pub where Chet, a perpetual grad student played by Eric Stoltz, tends the bar.

The movie just feels right, from the stupid debates the guys have at the bar, the trivia they obsess over, the inherent obsession with themselves, and the nostalgia for a time that isn't as far in the past as it's beginning to seem. The only thing that felt off was the cigarettes, but that's just a factor of time. I don't want to give it a number out of 10, but I will say that you should definitely check it out.

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